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Tuesday, 21 August 2018 13:18


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The word "copia" comes from Latin and can mean abundance or fullness. (Learn more.) A cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty, is a symbol of abundance and blessing, often seen in Thanksgiving decorations. 

In writing and speaking, "copia" refers to the communicator drawing from a large "well" of expressions so one can be rich and versatile with words, instead of being terse and tongue-tied.

In an online writing class today, I asked the students to finish this sentence: It has been a/n ________ summer. This is what they wrote:


Katie: It has been a hectic summer.

Alex: It has been a humid summer.

Ian: It has been an enjoyable summer.

Me: It has been a fast summer. 


Then I asked them to rewrite their sentence in as many ways as they could; it's fine if they change the shade of meaning some, but they have to keep the overall idea the same.

This is what they came up with:


Ian:  It has been an enjoyable summer.

It has been an entertaining summer.

It has been an amusing summer.

It has been a delightful vacation.

It has been a pleasurable summer.

It has been a delightable summer.

It has been a congenial summer.

It has been a lovely summer.

It has been a pleasant time.

It has been a wonderful summer.

It has been a sublime summer.

It has been a magnificient break.



Katie:  It has been a hectic summer.

It has been an exciting summer.

It has been a chaotic summer.

It has been a busy summer.

It has been a crazy summer.

It has been a frantic summer. 

It has been a summer filled with traveling. 


Alex:  It has been a humid summer.

It has been a moist summer.

It has been a soggy summer.

It has been a wet summer.

It has been a sweltering summer.

It has been a steamy summer.

It has been a muggy summer.



Scott:  It has been a fast summer.

The summer has sped by.

It's been an action-packed summer.

It's been a busy summer.

It's been an eventful summer.

Wow! What a full summer!

The summer break has been action-packed.

This summer has been full to the brim.

The time has flown by this summer.

This summer: where did the time go?

I can't believe how quickly this summer has flown by.

I can't believe it's late August: where did the summer go?

I can't believe there are only a few days of summer break left.

I can't believe there are only a few days of summer left.

I can't believe there are only a few days of summer vacation left.


See how it works? This is a GREAT way to push writers to think of more and different ways to express the same idea. Again, there may be some slight differences with shades of meaning, but this forces writers (or speakers) to expand their vocabulary and ways of expression. is a great tool for helping build one's vocabulary. Another way is to join a Advanced Vocabulary or Writing Classes


Here are the three students' brief reports on their summer. They had to write it in class, so they said much in the short time. The topic was broad and gave them lots of latitude to work with, and I liked how all three approached the prompt differently. For example, Ian took the broadest approach: he briefly reported on the party at the bowling alley on his first day out of school, trips to Hualien and Kaohsiung in Taiwan, then he closed with his summer classes. In contrast, Alex and Katie chose to zoom in on one particular aspect of their summer. Alex focused on his family's trip to Europe, then zoomed in on Prague, specifically Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and the Old Town. Katie focused on her family's trip to the US to take her brother to tour college campuses, yet she zeroed in on the transportation aspect. That is part of the beauty of writing: the writer chooses what to focus on! Take a look! 



How was your summer break? My summer is sometimes packed with classes and homework, while other times overflow with fun and entertainment. On the last day of school last June, right after we left for the summer, my classmates and I threw a party at a bowling alley. It was unbelievably exciting, so the time quickly sped past. In the blink of an eye,days were flying past. Two weeks ago my family visited relatives in Hualien, and my brothers, my younger cousin, and I had a great time. We taught our four-year-old cousin how to swim and played together at other times. One day we after we got home from east Taiwan, we drove south to Kaoshiung, where I soon found myself lolling on a cozy sofa, watching TV motionlessly. However, those trips were the calm before the storm because as soon as we returned home, I was bombarded with multiple classes and piles of homework each day. I have baking classes every morning, while English and swimming lessons in the afternoon made me so stressed I fall right asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow at night. But despite all the work, this summer is amazing!


-- Ian in Hsinchu, Taiwan



My summer of 2018 has been the best in my life so far. Why?prague 2367366 960 720 This summer, I went to three different countries in Europe-- Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic-- turning the scenic views from pictures into a reality. In my opinion, Prague was the most memorable city from the Europe Trip: we visited the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and rented an Airbnb in the iconic Old Town. First, we strolled across the Charles Bridge, inspecting the handcrafted sculptures and the amazing view of the Old Town. Luckily, we were there early in the morning, so we enjoyed the Charles Bridge mostly to ourselves. Then, we prowled around Prague Castle; since the castle has been used for centuries, display boards explained the different battle tactics and the cruel methods of how enemy soldiers and spies were tortured down through the years. Despite the incredible experience of seeing Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, the Old Town was the most memorable place in Prague, due to the red-tiled roofs, which one does not see anywhere in Taiwan. Not only has my summer been a blast, but it has also taught me that we live in a truly diverse world.


-- Alex in Hsinchu, Taiwan




My summer was filled with travel, both in cars and on airplanes. As we had been touring colleges all across the US all summer, we had to trek from campus to campus. We visited many places in the US, including many states I had never been to, for example Michigan, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois. In addition to driving and flying, we would take the subway around the city, like what we did in Boston. Because we flew so much, I noticed some differences between the airlines in Asia and in the US. For example, those in Asia always serve complimentary meals (unless the flight is only about 30 minutes), and always have an entertainment system, which contrasts to American airlines, where you have to pay to watch. Although I spent countless hours on airplanes and in cars, it was an extremely exciting summer.


-- Katie in Hsinchu, Taiwan



Do YOU want to improve your writing skills? Or those of your children? Contact me today to find out how we might be able to help you!  



Read 15916 times Last modified on Thursday, 23 August 2018 19:40
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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